Articles Tagged with Access to justice

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“Thinking About Designing Courthouses for Access to Justice,” posted on January 17, 2016
by Richard Zorza.

Courthouse construction is on the minds of all Oregonians. As long as the project managers, judges, courthouse employees, and other courthouse occupants and visitors don’t let the architects go all “let’s get an architecture prize!” on them, then taxpayers, judges, lawyers, and litigants may have a chance at getting the courthouses we need and want.

Courthouse design is a specialized field of study and experts read, practice, talk, build and learn to hone their craft.

If you’re getting a new or upgraded courthouse, even the “person on the street” will be consulted, either directly via surveys or indirectly when people “comment” on news stories about their local courthouses, but don’t forget that there are dozens of POVs (points of views) on exactly what the courthouse should look like or who it should serve over all others, so try to play nicely with others.

You can read a lot online about courthouse design, although you’ll also need to visit an architecture or engineering library to get the full picture – and talk and listen to the people who use, design, and furnish courthouses.

 

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We love hearing about other excellent public law libraries that serve the legal community and the public decade after decade after decade …. The need never seems to end:

Harris County Law Library turns 100

On October 1, 2015, the Harris County Law Library will celebrate its 100th anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, we have planned a Centennial Celebration focusing on our century of service to the Houston legal community and our bright future promoting open and equal access to justice for all. We would like to invite all of you to join us in our celebration! Although a trip to Texas may not be in the cards for everyone, please know that you are certainly welcome to join us if you are in Houston on October 1. Additionally, you can help us celebrate remotely by visiting our Centennial Digital Exhibit.”

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‘Jim Greiner Asks “What is Access to Justice For?”’

Direct links to Greiner posts:

Part 1: What’s access to justice for? Let’s get more philosophical. In a hurry,by D. James Greiner, 3/23/15, Harvard Law & Policy Review blog.

…. [T]he first thing I have to do is to ask, “What is this thing for?”. Without deciding first what the purpose of a thing is, there’s no way to know what I should measure to see if that thing is working.

Take legal services to low-income folks. Some lawyers and law students feel a strong desire to provide legal services to the poor. I’m all for it. But unless the only reason we’re providing the services is to make ourselves feel better, we ought to care about whether we’re accomplishing anything by providing the services. And we ought to care about whether there might be a better or more efficient way to accomplish whatever it is that we’re trying to do. That might mean less money for lawyers. But unless the point of legal services to the poor is full(er) employment for lawyers, that shouldn’t bother us too much….
….
If the purpose of providing litigation defense to debt collection defendants is to keep the defendant from having to pay the debt, there’s a far, far, far cheaper way to do that: just buy the debt the plaintiff is suing on. Buy the debt on the open market, and then forgive it by telling the alleged debtor that she’ll never have to pay. You can probably do that for, say, five cents on the dollar….” [Link to full posts from Access to Justice Blog post.]

Part 2: What’s access to justice for? Let’s get more philosophical. In a hurry. Part II, by D. James Greiner, 3/27/15, HL&PR.

Many more intriguing A2J posts and links from Richard Zorza’s Access to Justice Blog.

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Put those lawyer jokes aside (but not all of them and not forever): Most of the lawyers I know, serve, and witness in action practice random acts of kindness every day. Here are two recent stories that have hit the news about Oregon lawyers:

Lawyer Jeff Bradford
This article is from the Oregonian:
“A simple kindness, or perhaps something more: Editorial sketchbook,” by Len Reed, Oregonlive, 4/3/15.

Lawyer Colin M. Murphy (who should probably get A2J MCLE credit for his deed):
This article is from the Daily Mail:
Kindness of a stranger: Man gave young dad he met in courtroom $983 so he could avoid becoming a felon after overhearing he could not afford to pay the fine.”

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King County (Seattle, Washington) Law Library: Position Announcement: Public Services Attorney (link to full job description)

Excerpt: “The Public Law Library of King County is proud to announce a new full-time, benefit position of Public Services Attorney with the Law Library. The candidate will not only work on as a part-time reference services librarian but will develop policies and procedures to create an Access to Justice Center in the Law Library. The ideal candidate will have a minimum of three years of practice and an active membership with the Washington State Bar Association. A master’s degree in library science and family law experience (or other areas that are commonly needed by a self-represented litigant) are preferred….[Link to article.]

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Read this interesting blog post and discussion (in the Comments).

Future Fridays: Hey, ABA – Why Do Solos and Smalls Bear the Burden of Access to Justice? By Carolyn Elefant, at MyShingle, November 7, 2014.

And this one:

“Lawyer Can’t Work on The Cheap Even If He Wants To,” by Carolyn Elefant, February 13, 2015.

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“Could Volvo’s No Death Goal Show The Way for Access to Justice Innovation,” February 1, 2015 by Richard Zorza

I recently discovered that Volvo Cars has set a zero death goal for its new cars by 2020.

Our vision is that no one is killed or injured in a new Volvo by 2020,” the chief of governmental affairs is reported to have sad. Whether or not they actually achieve the specifics of that goal is less important than the fact that by setting such a goal, and doing so publicly, they change their whole system from thinking day to day, or year to year, to where they really want to be. (More on the vision here.) Interestingly, it turns out that a bit less than 20 years ago Sweden set as a goal that “Nobody should be killed or seriously injured within the road transport system” so this is also an example of corporate culture following governmental policy.

So the obvious question is this: What similar realistic, but challenging goals could we set for access to justice — goals that would require long term strategic thinking, and that recognize that system problems require systemic solutions. Different organizations should set such component goals for themselves….’ [Link to full blog post.]

Related, and equally interesting, blog post from Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites, January 19, 2015:

“Debating The Pros and Cons of Non-lawyers Practicing Law,”

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Too many shut out of justice, ABA president says:

Wlliam C. Hubbard, president of the American Bar Association, calls it “the justice gap.”

Deep down, all Americans believe they have a right to their day in court. They probably don’t envision that might mean a day in court with no lawyer on hand to guide them through it. But that’s the reality for an increasing number of people, perhaps one reason the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index ranks the United States only 19th out of 99 countries on access to justice ….” [Link to full article.]

More about A2J at the ABA Resource Center for Access to Justice Initiatives and links to State Access to Justice Commissions.

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A lot of “law & tech” endeavors often widen the gap between the legal haves and have-nots (think “digital dead end“), but this Law Decoded project (in progress) shows real promise, in addition to having a high cool factor, which never hurts. And even if it stalls, the intention, to make the law truly readable and “accessible” to all, should never be forgotten or lost in that legal-tech forest where you find a plethora of fancier A2J endeavors.

Discover the Code of Virginia: THE LAWS OF VIRGINIA, FOR NON-LAWYERS.

Virginia Decoded provides the Code of Virginia on one friendly website. Inline definitions, cross-references, bulk downloads, a modern API, and all of the niceties of modern website design. It’s like the expensive software lawyers use, but free and wonderful….” [Link to Virginia Decoded.]